Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged New Yorkers to remain calm after a doctor who just returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa became the first confirmed city patient to contract the virusThursday.
The two leaders briefed the public from Bellevue Hospital Center Thursday evening, where Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, of West Harlem, was put into isolation after he reported having a 100.3-degree fever and gastrointestinal symptoms earlier in the day.
Although the doctor rode the subway and hung out in Williamsburg after he returned from his humanitarian mission last week, the elected officials said there are no immediate signs that anyone else has gotten sick.
“Being in the same subway car or living close to someone with Ebola doesn’t put someone at risk,” the mayor said.
Spencer, who is an emergency physician with New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, was in contact with his fiancée and three other people since he returned from Guinea on Oct. 17. One of those contacts is also hospitalized as a precaution, according to city Health Commissioner Mary Bassett.
Spencer only began experiencing the symptoms on Thursday morning and immediately called his superiors at Doctors Without Borders, who then notified the city’s Health Department. He was taken by ambulance by a specially trained team in protective suits and had a police escort, officials said.
“He was familiar with the possibility of the symptoms … and he handled himself accordingly,” Cuomo said.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene decided to test for Ebola “because of this patient’s recent travel history, pattern of symptoms, and past work,” and a blood test confirmed he had the disease.
Spencer was placed in isolation and receiving treatment from “experienced, seasoned health workers who have been training for this purpose,” according to Bassett.
The city has been prepping for a potential Ebola case, the officials said.
During his week back in the city, Spencer took the A train, the No. 1 train and the L train, as well as an Uber taxi. He also went for a 3-mile jog and on Wednesday night hung out with friends at the Williamsburg bowling alley The Gutter, which was closed and will be inspected by city health officials as a precaution, according to the health commissioner.
He visited the High Line and may have gone to an unidentified restaurant.
Bassett reiterated that Ebola can only be contracted if one gets in contact with bodily fluids and is not an airborne virus.
“I know it is a frightening situation... but the more facts you know, the less frightening it is,” Cuomo said.
The state Department of Health said it is "closely monitoring this potential case."
In appearance on CNN on Friday morning, Governor Cuomo said Spencer "presented himself" to the hospital when he had "a 100-point-3 fever... not 103... as has been reported."
New York City's health department on Friday confirmed that the doctor's temperature was 100.3, though at a news conference Thursday night, officials had said Spencer had a temperature of 103 degrees.